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"Waving, not Drowning" Community Film

Monday, 21 November 2016

Waving not drowning

The long awaited community film about the response to the Boxing Day floods, "Waving, not Drowning", gets its first public airing at 6pm on Sunday 27th November at the Town Hall, Hebden Bridge, in association with the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

"It's taken quite a while to get here, considering the filming was completed in under a week, but we think it's been worth the wait," said Executive Producer, Jason Elliott.

"This isn't a film about a weather event. It's the story about how the ordinary people of Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd were able to successfully organise themselves and respond to a major incident with very little intervention from the civil authorities," Jason added.

The film was conceived and recorded in the first few days after the flooding as a response to the perceived lack of positive stories on TV and elsewhere in the mainstream media about the way the community was reacting to the disaster. "When a friend of mine in Bristol said, 'I see the Army are coming to save you from looters', I realised something had to be done to counterbalance this," said Elliott, "although it's fair to say that the BBC and ITV changed their reporting style pretty quickly," he added.

A small team of citizen videographers was dispatched to get the real picture from residents, volunteers and businesses, using everything from mobile phones to professional digital SLRs to capture the results. All of the respondents were asked the same questions and the resulting film shows a valley united in its determination to work co-operatively and get things done quickly.

Creative Director, Shanaz Gulzar, continues, "One of the constant threads running through the film is the reaction and appreciation of people in the towns to the help that came from other communities, in some cases from great distances too. Whether friends, family and neighbours, or people who had driven hundreds of miles to pump out basements. The things that unite us are greater than the things that divide us, and this film bears witness to our common humanity."

The film also features a specially written musical score by Mark Douglas, one of the volunteers who came over from Leeds to help the community in the immediate aftermath. "For weeks I was cleaning out flood-damaged properties, so I was able to put all of the emotion I had seen during that time into the music and I'm glad it has worked out so well."


"Waving, not Drowning" Producer, Jason Elliott, with Hebden Bridge Arts Festival Director, Helen Meller, overlooking the rain-swollen Hebden Water today.
Photo: Sara Robinson

The film is half an hour long and will start at 6.30pm in the Watefront Hall. There is no entry charge as the event is a part of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

"The Arts Festival theme for 2017 is water," said Festival Director, Helen Meller, "so we are delighted to include this important film in our early programme."

"It also highlights perfectly the huge wellspring of creativity that we have in this valley and just how adaptable people can be when they really need to. We hope to harness some of that local energy for more water-related projects as the programme gets going."

"Waving, not Drowning" will be preceded by a few locally-shot short films and followed by a Question and Answer session.

The Town Hall bar will also be open throughout.